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Bruce Garland and co-driver Harry Suzuki and their D-MAX ute have finished second in class after Day One of the 2009 Finke Desert Race.
 
It was a hard run down the 226km track from Alice Springs to the tiny Aboriginal settlement of Finke, with at least 12 of the 76 cars and buggies out of the offroad classic due to a variety of problems.
 
There is no phone coverage at Finke so Garland could not be reached for comment.
 
His goal is to be the first diesel to win a 4X4 class in the Finke, but to do that, he has to have a trouble-free run back to Alice Springs tomorrow.
 
The Finke Desert Race is step one of Garland and Suzuki’s preparations towards competing in the 2010 Dakar Rally. They were the first diesel ute home in the world’s most famous cross-country rally when it was run in South America in January this year, and finished 11th outright.
 
The vehicle Garland and Suzuki are using is known as ‘D-MAX One’; it was the prototype for the Dakar car, and finished fourth in the Condobolin 750 and third outright in the Australasian Safari last year, both test events for the Isuzu’s first run in Dakar.
 
The D-MAX is competing in the Extreme 4WD class which is for highly modified 4WDs with engines under six litres. Their vehicle, hand-built in Garland’s Sydney workshop, puts out 160kW of power (up 33 per cent on the standard Isuzu D-MAX ute) and 500Nm of torque (@2000rpm, an increase of 39 per cent).
 
Sponsored by Tattersalls, the Finke is the richest off-road race in the Southern Hemisphere. It started in 1976 as a ‘there and back’ challenge for local bike riders but soon grew. Cars and buggies (specialist desert racers) were introduced in 1988.

Photo: Stuart Bowes

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